Daniel Espinosa and David Sandberg frontrunners for Akira adaptation

The project has been in the works since 2011.

Filmmakers Daniel Espinosa and David Sandberg have emerged as frontrunners to direct a long-gestating movie adaptation of Japanese graphic novel Akira.

Warner Bros. executives have been developing the live-action project on and off since 2011, and now officials in charge of the latest effort are reportedly keen to land either Safe House director Espinosa or Sandberg, who scored a surprise hit for the studio with his 2016 thriller Lights Out.

The movie, about two telekinetic brothers in rival biker gangs, will be based on the 1980s manga series by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also turned it into an anime film in 1988.

Hollywood bosses first attempted to make a live-action version in 2011, with Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe, and Helena Bonham Carter in talks to star, but it was shelved due to budget, script and casting issues.

Leonardo DiCaprio stepped in to resurrect Akira in 2015, when he planned to have Daredevil's Marco J. Ramirez write the script and produce the picture through his Appian Way company, but that also failed to come to fruition.

It is not known if DiCaprio and Ramirez are still involved in the latest push to cash in on Akira's popularity.

If Akira does move into the production stage, it will be the latest anime film adapted for Hollywood as Scarlett Johansson is currently promoting her live-action Ghost in the Shell movie, which is based on the Japanese graphic novel series of the same name. An anime version was also made in 1995.

Johansson's take on the manga classic hasn't been without controversy, with many fans criticising director Rupert Sanders for casting the Caucasian beauty in the role of cyborg The Major - a character originally depicted as Asian in the source material.

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